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Albino Luciani's Biography

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Albino Luciani was born on 17 October 1912 in Forno di Canale in north-east Italy. On 26 August 1978 Luciani became Pope and took the name Pope John Paul I, however, Luciani's position in charge of the Catholic Church was brought short, a little over a month later, by his sudden death on 28 September 1978.

Albino Luciani's father was a migrant worker and an ardent socialist.

Luciani was ordained on 7 July 1935. He then completed a doctoral thesis on Rosmini at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Luciani became the vice-rector of the seminary at Belluno, near his home town, in 1937.

It was not until 1958 that he was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto by Pope John XXIII.

John Cornwell, in A Thief In The Night: The Death of John Paul I, relates that, "In an address to the clergy of his diocese in 1961 he recalled Dollinger, Renan and Passaglia, the late-nineteenth 'dissidents', whose views had threatened schism in the Church. 'They were lost through too much theology,' he said. 'They were too much theologians and too little pastors of souls..."

On 15 December 1969 Luciani was named patriarch of Venice. On 5 March 1973 he was made a cardinal.

When Pope Paul VI died, Albino Luciani was elected on the first day of the conclave, after just a few ballots. It was one of the shortest conclaves in history and Luciani was dubbed 'God's candidate' by Cardinal Hume and others.

He took the name Pope John Paul. J.N.D. Kelly in The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, states:

"His choice of name was said to express his desire to combine the progressive and the traditional qualities of John XXIII and Paul VI."

Pope John Paul dispensed with the traditional papal coronation. Instead on 3 September his inauguration in St Peter's Square was a relatively simple affair.

However, on the evening of 28 September 1978 Pope John Paul I died, reportedly, of a heart attack. His death came completely out-of-the-blue as he had appeared in good health. Many controversial theories have been put forward in regards to this, and some have even suggested that he was murdered.

Famed for his smile, and notable for, unusually for a Pope, coming from a working class background, Pope John Paul never had time to stamp his mark on the Papacy. His period as Pontiff or Pastor, as he preferred to be called, was the shortest in about 400 years. This proved to be in marked contrast to his successor, Pope John Paul II, who was Pontiff for 27 years.

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